The Kansans and Whence They Came – Kessler Family History
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Source Citation:
Richard Wilson, "", The Kansans and Whence They Came, Internet: (accessed ), < >.

A nna, Theresia, and Johann were three children of Johann and Barbara ßler who emigrated from Bohemia to Kansas, in 1875. They were a part of a large chain migration from a group of villages that are now located in the Czech Republic.

Anna Maria Kessler

Anna Maria ßler, later known as Anna Kessler, was born 11 Nov 1838 in Altwaldek, Bohemia, when Bohemia was a kingdom within the vast Austrian Empire. Anna married Johann Prax, later known as John Brox, on 02 Sep 1862. In 1875, the family emigrated to the United States. They sailed from Bremen and arrived in Baltimore 9 Apr 1875 aboard the steamer "Braunschweig" with their three children. They settled in the Deer Creek community of Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, where their fourth child was born. John died here 27 June 1910 and was buried in the cemetery of the St. Louis Church northwest of Atchison, Kansas. Anna died 6 June 1913 and was buried with her husband. Additional details of their lives together as well as their following children were previously discussed in the "Brox Family History":

  1. Mary Anna Brox (1863-1933).
  2. Johann Joseph "John" Brox (1869-1954).
  3. Anton Paul "Tony" Brox (1874-1955).
  4. Frank Brox (1876-1948) previously discussed in the "Maternal Branch in Kansas".

Theresia Kessler

Anna's younger sister was Theresia ßler who was born 09 Mar 1841 in Altwaldek. Theresia was married to Franz Gergele in Austria, and they had one son. However, Franz must have passed away before Theresia and their son emigrated, because they traveled alone with their $260 in belongings on the same voyage to America as her sister in 1875. Upon their arrival in Kansas, the two stayed with the John and Mary (Karn) Drimmel family who had emigrated from the same area in the mid-1850's. The Drimmels had lived in Missouri before moving to Atchison County by 1860. Theresia and Franz's son was:

  1. Johann Gergele/John Gergala (1873-1927) who was born in Körber, Bohemia, Austria. John married Clara E. Sentz on 25 Nov 1915 in Doniphan County, Kansas.

Two years later, Theresia married Peter Greenwalt in Atchison County on 10 Apr 1877 and moved to Union Township, Doniphan County. Their farm was the E½ of the SW¼ of Section 31, Township 4, Range 19, midway between the towns of Purcell and Huron. They had a daughter, Mary, in 1879, but Theresia died during the birth of another child on 04 Aug 1882. She was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery near Purcell. Peter never remarried and continued to raise the two children on his own. When Mary was twelve, he sent her for the next four years to the Mount St. Scholastica convent in Atchison, Kansas, for schooling but also to learn how to cook and keep house. She returned after four years to again live with her father, but she married and left in 1899. John remained a bachelor and continued to live with and care for his step-father until his death. Peter died on 13 May 1915 and was buried with his wife. John married later the same year. Theresia and Peter's surviving daughter was:

  1. Mary Theresa Greenwalt (1879-1953) who married Stephen Elmer Burch. Stephen had begun working as a farmhand for Mary's father, and after only four weeks they eloped on 20 Nov 1899 to marry in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. They first went to Douglas County, Missouri, to live with Stephen's parents. At the end of 1904, they relocated to Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas. In 1915, they purchased a farm west of Americus in the same county. In 1939, they moved back to Emporia where they remained.

John Charles Kessler

Johann Carl ßler, later known as John Charles Kessler, was the youngest of the three siblings to emigrate, born 5 Jul 1844 in Altwaldek. John was first married to a woman whose name was probably Theresia.note1 The two had a daughter named Mary, but her mother soon passed away. She was afterward raised by her grandparents and remained with them after John emigrated to the United States.

About 1870, John remarried to Victoria Rutter (or Ritter) who was born 14 Nov 1847 in the nearby city of Zwittau. On 28 Apr 1875, they and their two children, one a newborn, left for Kansas. This was only about three weeks after John's sisters had arrived there. They departed from Bremen and arrived in Baltimore in May aboard the steamer "Nürnberg". The ship's log shows Johann as a laborer, but the census taken in Kansas immediately after their arrival showed his occupation as cabinetmaker. The family first lived in Shannon Township, but later moved to Lancaster Township, west of the town of Huron. John and Victoria had seven more children in Kansas. All of their children were the following:

  1. Theresa Frances Kessler (1871-1963) who first married Henry Benjamin Myers 11 Apr 1893 in Atchison. Henry's brother married a first cousin of Theresa, Mary Anna Kessler Brox. Henry died in 1894, and Theresa remarried to Henry Jackson Hartsock 10 Feb 1897 in Atchison.
  2. Frank Kessler (1875-1949) who never married.note2
  3. Mary Elizabeth "Mollie" Kessler (1877-1967) who married Robert P. Keeler 16 Aug 1898 in Troy, Doniphan County, Kansas.
  4. Anna Kessler (1877-1891).
  5. Joseph Charles Kessler (1882-1963) who married Anna Marie Handke 5 May 1909 in the Good Intent neighborhood, Atchison County, Kansas.
  6. John Louis "Jack" Kessler (1884-1972) who married Emma Mier 16 Jun 1928.
  7. William L. Kessler (1886-1962) who married Mary Ellen Reed 20 Feb 1912 in Purcell, Doniphan County, Kansas.
  8. Edward J. Kessler (1889-1955) who married Laverne Lorene Wilson 22 Aug 1918 in Atchison.
  9. Henry Kessler (1892-1959) who died in the Old Soldiers Home in Wadsworth, Kansas.

John died after surgery on 3 Oct 1913 and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery. His daughter from his first marriage was mentioned in his probate records as a potential heir. It is not known when she immigrated, but Mary was a resident of Atchison County when she died in November 1920. After John's probate was settled earlier that year, Victoria moved into the town of Huron and died of a stroke on 28 Jun 1928. She was buried with John.

The Previous Generations

The father of Anna, Theresia, and John was Johann ßler who was born c.1805 as a son of Wenzel ßler. Johann was a häusler which means that he owned a small house with a garden, but he probably made his living as a skilled worker or laborer. He had lived at house no. 26 in Altwaldek, the same address where Anna lived after marriage. Their mother was Barbara Frodl who was born c.1817. She was originally from house no. 130 in the village of Triebitz, about five miles north. Johann and Barbara had the following children:

  1. Anna Maria ßler (1838-1913) previously discussed.
  2. Theresia ßler (1841-1882) previously discussed.
  3. Rosalia ßler (1842-1843) who died as an infant.
  4. Johann Carl "John Charles" ßler (1844-1913) also previously discussed.


The original spelling of the Kessler surname was ßler. However, due to differences between the German and English alphabets, how that should be translated into English can be interpreted in more than one way. In German, the letter 'ö' is a direct equivalent to 'oe'. The letter 'ß', called eszett (literally sz), is a symbol that was originally a way of writing the combined letters of 's' and 'z' when they appeared together in a word. Nonetheless, it is pronounced as an 'ss'. It can now be correctly converted back as either 'ss' or 'sz'. This means that the name ßler can be rewritten in German as either Kössler, Köszler, Koessler, or Koeszler. Each of these except for the last example has been found in at least one record.

In almost all of the original church records from Zwittau, the name is spelled ßler. On John Kessler's ship passenger arrival record, his surname was clearly spelled Kössler. The birth certificate for one of Anna's sons shows Anna's father's surname spelled Köszler. An 1875 Kansas state census taker, by coincidence a fellow Austrian who shouldn't have had any language barriers, wrote John's surname as Koessler. In all American documents after this date, the name was anglicized to Kessler by removing the "o". The new spelling was used when Anna's death was entered into church records, and the descendants of her brother continue to use this spelling as well.

The Kessler Homeland & Further Research

See the Brox Family History for more about the area where they and the Kessler families had lived.

See the Brox Research chapter for ongoing research pertaining to this family.

Kessler Selected Documents


'Kansas State Census, 1865-1925', State Board of Agriculture.

1 Mar 1875, Shannon Township, Atchison County, Kansas, p.17.

John Drimmel, age 46, male, white, farming, $4000 real estate, $900 pers. prop., born Austria, to KS from MO.
Mary Drimmel, age 45, female, white, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Sophrone [Veronica] Drimmel, age 21, female, white, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Anthony Drimmel, age 17, male, white, born MO, to KS from MO, school 6 mos.
Florience Drimmel, age 13, male, white, born KS, school 7 mos.
John Drimmel, age 11, male, white, born KS, school 8 mos.
Arnold Drimmel, age 8, male, white, born KS, school 3 mos.
Francis Drimmel, age 6, male, white, born KS.
Louis Drimmel, age 3, male, white, born KS.
Tharesia Brox, age 20, female, white, laborer, born Austria, to KS from MO.
Tharesia Gergele, age 33, female, white, $260 pers. prop., born Austria, to KS from Austria.
John Gergele, age 1, male, white, born Austria, to KS from Austria.


'Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891', U.S. Customs Service.

Steam Ship Nurnberg, From Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, departed 28 Apr 1875, arrived May 1875, p.7.

Johann Kössler, age 31, male, laborer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Victoria Kössler, age 27, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Theresia Kössler, age 3, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Kössler, age 7 months, male, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Schlinger, age 35, male, farmer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Maria Schlinger, age 34, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Schlinger, age 9 years 9 months, male, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Anna Maria Schlinger, age 6, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Johanna Schlinger, age 60, female, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.
Franz Urban, age 28, male, farmer, from Bohemia, to USA, steerage.


The Atchison Daily Globe, Atchison, Kansas.

6 Jun 1913, p.7.

Mrs. Anna Brox, age 75 years, died this morning of dropsy at the home of her son, Anton Brox, on Independence creek, where she had lived for 24 years. She is survived by four children: Mrs. John H. Myers, John, Anton and Frank Brox. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Mrs. Brox was a kindly woman and popular with all who knew her. She was the widow of John Brox, who died three years ago this month. Born in Austria, she came to America and to Kansas in 1875 with her husband and family.

The Atchison Champion, Atchison, Kansas.

6 Jun 1913, p.5.


Had Lived Northwest of Town for 23 Years - Funeral Announced Later

Mrs. John Brox, widow of the late John Brox living northwest of town died this morning at 9:30 o'clock, after an illness that has lasted for one year. She leaves four children, John, Frank, and Antone Brox, and Mrs. J. H. Myers. Mrs. Brox was 74 years old and was a woman highly respected. The funeral announcement cannot be made until later.


The Atchison Daily Globe, Atchison, Kansas.

28 Oct 1955.

Edward Kessler Dies At Atchison Hospital

Edward Kessler, 66, for 20 years a hardware merchant at Huron and later an employe of the Locomotive Finished Material Co. in Atchison, died early today at the Atchison hospital after three years of failing health. He retired at the LFM plant last March.
He was born Sept. 22, 1889, at Huron a son of John and Victoria Ritter Kessler. On Aug. 22, 1918, he married Miss LaVerne Wilson in Atchison. She survives with two sons, Forrest Kessler, Emporia, and John Kessler, Atchison; two daughters, Mrs. John Lane, Needles, Calif., and Mrs. Donald Boyle, Lompoc, Calif., and 13 grandchildren.
Also surviving are four brothers, William Kessler, Everest; John Kessler, Huron; Henry Kessler, Wadsworth; and Joseph Kessler, Atchison and two sisters, Mrs. Thresa Hartsock, Atchison, and Mrs. Robert Keeler, Huron.
The family moved to Atchison from Huron in 1942. The residence is at 1930 Pine street.
Funeral arrangements are pending. The body is at the Sawin-Dyer funeral home.


  1. [According to the baptism certificate of John Joseph Brox, a son of Anna Kessler Brox, his godparents were Johann Köszler and his wife, Theresia. The same document shows that Anna's father of the same name was deceased. This means that the godfather was almost certainly her brother, Johann Carl Kössler. Since the baptism occurred on 23 Feb 1869, it fits with the theory that Theresia was his first wife, and Johann could have remarried and had a child with his second wife by Dec 1871.]
  2. [Family stories say that Frank Kessler was born at sea during the voyage across the Atlantic, but this is not supported by evidence. He appears on the ship passenger list as Franz, a seven month old infant boy. This would have made his birthdate around September 1874. Later, the 1900 census gives his birth month and year as Mar 1875, making him one month old before leaving. His World War I registration card in 1918 shows his birthdate as 6 Mar 1875, matching the census. (One would expect his self-reported birthdate to be accurate, but sometimes these documents did have the year incorrect.) Finally, his tombstone gives only his year of birth, shown as 1875. Of these records, the only conflict is from the ship's list. Therefore, the most reasonable answer appears to be that he was born 6 Mar 1875, one month before sailing, and the ship register should show 1 month instead of 7 months, an easy transcription error to make, especially since Europeans and Americans write the number "1" differently.]